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Quintuplets’ safe arrival creates new family of 7

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(DALLAS) – In a matter of four minutes, between 9:13 and 9:17 a.m. on June 17, the Clark family grew from two to seven, when Opalyn (“Ofa”) Santos-Clark, 30, and her husband Rex K. Clark, 27,welcomed three girls and two boys, joining an elite group of parents of quintuplets.

Known as one of the nation’s leading birth centers, Parkland Memorial Hospital also regards the event as a milestone, marking the delivery of its third set of quintuplets. The last quintuplets at Parkland were born in June 1998.

For the happy parents, whose infants are all doing well in Parkland’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it was an overwhelming but long-anticipated event. Santos-Clark spent eight weeks as an inpatient in the antepartum unit of Parkland while physicians supervised her care and prepared for every eventuality to assure as safe a delivery as possible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 4 million babies born in the U.S. in 2012, the number of quintuplet, sextuplet and other higher order of births in the U.S. was 45, compared to 131,269 twin births, 4,919 triplet and 276 quadruplet births that year. There is approximately a 0.005 percent chance of giving birth to quintuplets.

Planning among the multidisciplinary care team at Parkland for the quints’ arrival began in April. Meetings were held to discuss which operating rooms and delivery rooms would be utilized. On-call lists were established for nursing, physicians, pharmacy and radiology. The care teams for each infant were identified on the day of delivery and wore the corresponding letters (A through E) to the infant they were assigned to.

“Preparation was crucial to make sure we were ready round-the-clock at a moment’s notice for the arrival of five premature infants,” said Myra Wyckoff, MD, neonatologist and Director of Newborn Resuscitation Services at Parkland and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “We practiced and tested everything to ensure that we had the personnel, equipment, supplies and space for all five babies.”

Coincidentally, Dr. Wyckoff was a resident at Parkland in 1998 when the last quintuplets were born at the facility.

A team of UT Southwestern obstetricians who work at Parkland supervised the high-risk pregnancy and carefully monitored the mother. Their goal was to bring the babies as close to full-term as possible.

The staff’s fine-tuned preparations paid off when Santos-Clark’s water broke around 5 a.m. on June 17 and the medical team swung into action.

Father-to-be Rex Clark posted a hasty but excited message on Facebook: “We have babies on the way!! It is also our anniversary today! Send your thoughts, prayers and good energy our way!”

At 9:13 a.m., the first infant (Baby A) was born and her siblings followed at one-minute intervals until 9:17 when Baby E completed the family. Each infant was immediately surrounded by its own team of Parkland specialists – neonatologist, neonatal nurse practitioner, neonatal nurses and NICU respiratory therapist– standing by with warmers, oxygen and other needed equipment.

Born via Cesarean section, each infant had the typical resuscitation for 31-week gestation and all babies were placed on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in the delivery room to aid with breathing.

The quintuplet’s names, gender and birth weights:

Baby A is a girl- Vianca Quing, 1310 grams, 2 pounds 14 ounces

Baby B is a girl- Alessandra Roxy, 850 grams, 1 pound 12 ounces

Baby C is a boy – Perrin Rex, 1050 grams, 2 pounds 5 ounces

Baby D is a boy- Noah Steve, 1010 grams, 2 pounds 4 ounces

Baby E is a girl- Scarlett Jessie, 1330 grams, 2 pounds 15 ounces

Although she is the smallest, little Alessandra Roxy is the “feistiest” of the quints and doesn’t hesitate to make her needs known with insistent cries, Parkland NICU nurses reported. So far, only one unexpected health condition has arisen.

According to Mambarambath A. Jaleel, MD, Medical Director of Parkland’s Neonatal ICU and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, “On June 24, a congenital abnormality, malformed bowel, was discovered in Baby Boy C, Perrin Rex, that required surgery that night. He is recovering well from the surgery to repair the condition. The quintuplets are now 14 days old and doing well and gaining weight. All five have had CPAP removed; one is receiving oxygen via a nasal cannula and four are breathing room air.”

In praise of the care team, Dr. Jaleel said, “It took the incredible skill and dedicated efforts of staff from multiple disciplines to make the quintuplet delivery a smooth and well-orchestrated process. Their hard work makes me proud to be a part of this wonderful team.”

Still recovering from the C-section delivery, Santos-Clark said, “We are happy, grateful and relieved. The birth of our quints wouldn’t be possible without all the help of our doctors and the nurses, especially the Parkland NICU team. Thank you! Our babies are in such good hands until we can bring them home.”

“It’s too soon to predict when that may be,” Jennifer Hill, RN, Director of Nursing, Neonatal ICU at Parkland, said. “Typically, if there have not been any complications, we tell parents to expect the babies to be in the NICU until their due date.” The Clark quintuplets due date, had they reached full-term, would have been August 19.

Married in 2012, the Clarks say they dreamed of someday having four kids. But, added Santos-Clark, “We never thought we would have five – and all at the same time!”

When just seven weeks pregnant, the couple were told they were expecting quadruplets, but a sonogram at 16 weeks detected a fifth fetus.

“We were shocked,” said Santos-Clark. “I thought, ‘five babies, how can I handle this?’ I was scared, for myself and my babies.”

But as she read and researched more about quintuplets, Santos-Clark said she gained confidence, especially after meeting other mothers of quintuplets. For the new parents of five, the fears surrounding the high-risk pregnancy and childbirth are melting away as they face the challenges of caring for and raising quintuplets.

“We will just take it a day at time,” the new mother said with a smile.

“We feel very blessed by the great care provided at Parkland,” her husband said. “But we’re still amazed to be the parents of five. It’s just beginning to sink in.”

For more information about Parkland’s NICU, please visit www.parklandhospital.com. For information about donating to the Clark quintuplets, please visit www.clarkquintuplets.blogspot.com


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